Feb 162013

Not all 4x4s are off road vehicles. So, when you rent one, with a goal to go anywhere you want, choosing the cheapest option isn’t necessarily the best idea. Still, it definitely made this drive from Walvis Bay to Sossusvlei interesting.

“Corrugated road, 20 km… speed limit reduced to 60km/hr,” the sign said.

I didn’t have to wonder exactly what a corrugated road was for long before we fired onto the bumpiest surface I’ve ever been on. A corrugated road is exactly what it sounds like, small ridges like those in a sheet of corrugated metal. The car felt like it was going to shake to pieces. I slowed to 60km/hr and the vibrations didn’t stop. Eventually, things calmed down at 30km/h.

So, slowly we rolled on, past vast expanses of desert, punctuated occasionally by wild ostriches. I drove for about an hour and a half before switching to the passenger seat. It wasn’t long after this that we climbed a bit, and got this view back across the expanse we had just crossed.

Three quiver trees and a mountain in the Namibia desert with a bright blue sky and whispy clouds

Feb 072013

Off we drove, into the off road area at Dune 7 in our sub-par 4×4. We picked up speed as we prepared to climb from the hard packed sand at the base to the flowing dunes. Then, we stopped. We were stuck. Fifteen minutes later we dug, rocked and pushed the car out and back down to the hard packed sand. It was time to set off on foot.

Walking on these dunes really isn’t easy. The sand is very soft and it doesn’t take much of a gradient to feel like you’re getting lower down with each step forward you take. As a result, the three of us took off in different directions, attacking what we thought was the easiest route. Harleigh, pictured below, took the direct route up some of the steepest inclines. Her momentum carried her about three quarters of the way to the top, where I was able to catch this photo of her just before she was forced to drop to her hands and knees and drag herself the rest of the way.

I was jealous. As I was carrying two cameras and a tripod I couldn’t used my hands to make the climb without dragging my gear through the sand. I spent quite a while trying different routes until I found a way, using less steep bits, that let me reach the ridge.

Splitting up worked out well for me as I was able to snap a few pictures of the dunes dwarfing the girls and giving a real sense of the immensity of these mountains of sand.

A girl climbing up a steep sand dune at dune 7 in namibia

Jan 272013

This is the backside of Dune 7 in Namibia. You can rent quad bikes here, or go sand dune boarding. We decided that rather than do either of these activities we’d take our own 4×4 into the off-road area. It took us about 3 minutes to get stuck on the side of the dune. Thankfully we were able to push it free after digging out the sand around the wheels. After this we stuck to the hard sand until parking it and setting off up the dunes on foot.

Ripples of sand lead to the back side of Dune 7, Namibia in front of a blue sky with fluffy white clouds

Jan 242013

I was stood on the viewing deck of the campsite where we spent our last night in Namibia. My camera gear was down by our tent and as I watched the sunset develop I contemplated just watching it and not taking any photos. Then I decided to go for it. I ran and grabbed my gear, crossed a dry river bed on the other side of the camp and went in search of a good shot. The further away from camp I walked (not very far) the more I wondered what sort of predators there were in this area. Then, I entered a clearing, full of springbok. There had to be at least thirty of them. They didn’t stick around for long, they took off as soon as they saw me. Well, I hoped it was because of me.

This encounter reminded me I really was out in the wilderness and I beat a hasty retreat. The retreat was paused briefly to snap one more photo, this one.

A tree in the African brush of Namibia at sunset.